REVIEW: Premieres highlight choreographer Uri Sands' darker side and the fresh perspective of New York's Camille A. Brown.
The world premiere of "January: Part I" and "January: Part II" Friday night at Minneapolis' Cowles Center revealed a darker side to choreographer Uri Sands, the co-artistic director of TU Dance with Toni Pierce-Sands. Each piece showed the explosive creative potential of an artist determined to defy expectations and challenge his audience. Sands can bring the beauty like nobody's business, but this time it was of the twisted sort, seemingly inspired by a Goth comic book.
Sands hinted at this new direction when TU premiered "A Subconscious Plastic Nowhere" last fall. He and Eva Mohn performed that work with their bodies hunched and torqued. This physical aspect was repeated in "January: Part II" but first "Part I" set out a contrasting theme. Mohn and Winston Dynamite Brown danced their duet by deliberately gliding and mirroring one another. Then Mohn repeated a call -- "Whoa ho ho ho," letting it fade like an echo. Sometimes the sounds were gasped as Brown swept Mohn off her feet -- a haunting accompaniment.
In "Part II," the 11 company members emerged as a flock of androgynous beings, loping like predators, running and jumping with jittery speed, their upper bodies curled and tense. Amon Tobin's apocalyptic electronica furthered the dire futuristic tone. When several dancers stood at the edge of the stage, rising and falling and repeating Mohn's vocalizations from "Part I," it was like the lonely song of lost souls. The moment was compelling and disturbing.
The program also included a world premiere from New York choreographer Camille A. Brown. Her "Strum" was a delightful puzzle to be undone and reassembled, with the dancers -- especially Yusha Marie Sorzano -- infusing dynamic pauses into phrases deconstructing everything from African-based to hip hop and modern dance forms. Here's hoping Brown and her fresh perspective return to the Twin Cities soon.
The lush chamber piece "B Sessions" (2005), from Dwight Rhoden of New York's Complexions Contemporary Ballet, gave dancers Duncan Schultz, Katelyn Skelley, Brown and Sorzano an opportunity to explore distinct movement personalities -- as if four portraits came to life to reveal their stories.